Over the past few years, you might have noticed there has been a rise in the different kinds of allergies and sensitivities around the world. These can be of many types including food, chemical, metal, and other allergies.
By far, the most common forms of allergy you can develop are skin or a food allergy. This means that whenever you eat a certain type of food or whenever your skin comes into contact with a substance, you can experience mild to severe symptoms.
Touching some irritant or anything you are sensitive to can leave behind redness, itchiness, and blistery rashes.
This can be cited as one of the results of contact dermatitis. Statistically, nearly everyone develops contact dermatitis in their lives.
Since it is such a common condition, you can guess it usually does not pose a threat or persists for a very long time. Generally, the body overcomes the reaction in 2-3 weeks but if it lasts longer than that for an unknown reason, it is better to see a dermatologist.
According to the data on contact dermatitis, nearly 15 million people in the United States alone suffer frequently from this skin condition.
Fortunately, the symptoms or bodily reactions to dermatitis can be reduced and overcome in a short period of time using natural treatments. For the early signs, avoiding the irritant can prevent further development.
The most common signs of contact dermatitis include blisters and lesions within 24-72 hours. The time usually depends on the type of irritant and the period you were in contact with it.
The inflammatory response of dermatitis can be caused by various products that you might think can be troublesome in your daily life such as plants, cosmetics, chemical solvents, and certain medicines that you take.
Contact dermatitis is also one of the well-known occupational skin diseases. The occupations at higher risks of having its acute version are nurses, makeup artists, hairstylists, landscapers, bartenders, and people who work with chemicals in laboratories and industrial areas.
One of the most confusing things about dermatitis is that there is a good amount of evidence to show that repeated exposure to anything increases the chances of an attack. The immune system tends to become more sensitive hence resulting in a new allergic reaction.
Example of such incidents can be found in people who suddenly got an allergic reaction to latex after years of wearing and working with gloves. Similarly, some professional musicians end up getting rashes from the instruments they have been playing for years.
What is Contact Dermatitis?
Contact dermatitis is a skin condition caused by exposure to an irritant or allergen. It is an inflammatory response which comes with different reactions depending on the person. The two categories of allergen and irritant dermatitis can have distinctive reactions.
Typically, irritant leading to contact dermatitis has an instant effect on the body. The reactions can occur almost a few minutes after the contact or within a few hours.
On the other hand, effects of dermatitis caused by allergens may take several days to physically show.Both types can be caused by a number of compounds. What is similar in both cases is the prevention and treatment methods.
The allergic reaction is comparatively more common in women and is caused by antibiotic creams, jewelry, cosmetics, latex, skincare products, rubber and certain sanitary or body cleansing products around the house.
The inflammatory response appears in a localized manner within 24-72 of the contact but may sometimes take 4-5 days or even a week. It shows up mostly on the hands, neck, ears, and face before spreading to any other area.
Sumac, poison ivy, and oak rashes also fall into this category. The very prevalent metal allergies that suddenly make people unable to wear their wedding rings can also be considered as an allergic reaction to contact dermatitis.
Irritants that can cause dermatitis are usually chemicals and poisonous substances. In addition, some environmental factors can contribute to increased chances of getting a contact dermatitis attack such as overexposure to water or even cold temperatures.
You might be wondering how can someone get an allergic reaction to water. Overexposure to water can be seen in people who work near the beach or swimmers.
Shifting to a new place with extremely different climate can result in irritation from cold temperatures.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis?
Contact dermatitis falls into the wide category of eczema along with seborrheic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis and others. There are some signs common to all types of eczema and some which are confined to one form.
The most recognized signs of contact dermatitis are:
- Scaly pink or red areas on the skin
- Increased sensitivity to the sun
- Swollen eyes
- Raised skin
- Lesions (in geometric shapes or distinct borders)
- Peeling of the skin
- The darkened color of the skin
- The rough texture of the skin
- Burning sensation
- Mild to severe pain
An additional symptom that occurs in the allergic category of contact dermatitis is fluid-filled blisters. This usually happens when you come in contact with sumac, poison ivy, and poison oak. These can be painful and will appear in a line while worsening over time.
While the fluid from these blisters is not contagious, the residual urushiol leftover fabric or inside fingernails can be still infectious and spread to other people. Residual urushiol is the compound that causes the infection in the first place.
How is Dermatitis Treated?
The diagnosis of the condition usually requires a bit of medical history and physical examination where the latter is more important. The dermatologist is able to recognize signs are symptoms without any further testing in most of the cases.
However, in cases where irritant or allergen is hard to recognize, tests such as patch test and allergy tests may be a requirement. The common treatments include:
- Antihistamines for allergens
- Oral steroids
- Hydrocortisone creams for relieving itchiness and redness
- Antibiotics if blisters or lesions are infected
Natural Treatments for Contact Dermatitis
Besides the obvious avoidance of irritants and chemicals that can cause a contact dermatitis reaction, there are some things you can do at home to lessen the severity, treat the symptoms and prevent getting an infection in the future.
One way to cure dermatitis at home is through diet. Certain foods have the capability to aid in overcoming dermatitis as well as its aftereffects, such as scars from blisters and lesions.
Consider adding food with anti-inflammatory properties and flavonoids in your diets such as blueberries and blackberries. Similarly, try eating more omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin C rich foods, probiotics, bromelain, Collagen, Vitamin D, and quercetin to your diet.
Do not forget to moisturize and soothe the rashes from dermatitis to prevent severe effects such as cracking of the skin. Use an all natural hydrating cream or simply use coconut oil 2-3 times a day on the rashes.
Avoid touching the skin too much. If you cannot handle the itching, primrose oil can hydrate the skin as well as maintain the moisture levels. Like coconut oil, primrose oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Keep the affected area clean to avoid worsening of the infection. Poor hygiene can lead to blisters and lesions that break open which in turn increases the chances of infections. Dead sea salt baths and oatmeal baths can be tried for as long as the infections last.